SAN FRANCISCO – Does Fernando Rodney have any arrow-shooting celebrations left in him?
The Cubs are about to find out, trying to strengthen their bullpen by acquiring Rodney from the Seattle Mariners on Thursday for a player to be named later or a cash consideration.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon had seen Rodney at his best with the 2012 Tampa Bay Rays, watching the right-hander save 48 games and finish with a 0.60 ERA in 76 appearances.
But Rodney appears to be fading at the age of 38, putting up a 5.68 ERA in 50-plus innings with the Mariners before getting designated for assignment earlier this week.
“I know he struggled a bit this year,” Maddon said after a 9-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. “But I’m eager to see it in person to find out what’s going on. We just spoke on the phone. He sounds really good, so we’ll how it (plays).
“He still has the good fastball. He’s got an outstanding changeup. He’s a great teammate. He’s a lot of fun to have on the team.”
Rodney – a two-time All-Star with 236 career saves on his resume – is expected to be in the bullpen on Friday night at Dodger Stadium. To make room, the Cubs optioned lefty Zac Rosscup to Triple-A Iowa and designated right-hander Brian Schlitter for assignment.
In the same way Theo Epstein’s front office has collected players from the Boston Red Sox, Maddon is banking on the experience from his days with the Rays.
The Cubs essentially gambled $2 million on Rafael Soriano, another former Tampa Bay closer who hasn’t been a difference-maker yet. Soriano is on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation after putting up a 6.35 ERA in six appearances.
The Cubs also placed veteran reliever Jason Motte on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder before beginning this West Coast trip.
“It’s more ongoing than anything,” Maddon said. “I just can’t say it’s because of Jason. I just think that (Rodney) was available. And then at that point, you have to decipher how you think he fits into what you’re doing.
“Do you think he makes you better? The answer is yes. So you go ahead and do it.”